By Abolade Ogundim
Ayodeji Akindele, a national senior men’s basketball team player, says the team being put together for the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers in Mali needs to blend quickly to achieve success.
The player told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja that the experienced players invited to camp should quickly blend with new players to achieve huge victory.
Akindele who got his first national call-up in 2007 and currently plies his trade with Turkey’s Belediye Spor said the entire team needs to have the same goal of stopping Mali.
The Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) had released a provisional list of players invited for preparation for the qualifiers scheduled for Bamako from Feb. 23 to Feb. 25.
The list has five players from the 2017 AfroBasket silver medal-winning D’Tigers team and three home-based players, as well as two players from the 2015 AfroBasket-winning D’Tigers squad.
“The entire team needs to have the same goal of leaving Mali undefeated.
“Ordinarily, it is a challenge to put a team together for a crucial tournament within a short time, but the presence of seven experienced national players should make it easier for the team to blend.
“The experienced players, who will be under an experienced technical crew, should know what it takes to return victorious at the end of every match.
“We just need to maintain the common goal of leaving Mali undefeated and move to the next phase,” Akindele said.
Speaking on the arrangement made in terms of traveling and camping, Musa Kida, the NBBF President, said it was done that way in line with FIBA calendar which opens on Feb. 19.
“FIBA calendar opens four days to D’Tigers first game, and telling all players to come to Nigeria before traveling to Mali will be mission impossible”.
Apart from Akindele, NBBF invited Ikechukwu Ireogbu (Agua Caliente Clippers, the U.S.), Ike Nwamu (Sioux Falls Skyforce, the U.S.) and Bryant Mbamalu (CD Vildivia, Chile) for the tournament.
Others invited by the Alex Nwora-led technical crew include Ike Diogu (Schun Blue Whales, China) Eli Abraham (Kano Pillars), Abdulwahab Yakubu (Gombe Bulls) and Musa Mohammed (Mark Mentors, Abuja).
Others are Ofoegbu Chima (unattached), Ojo Michael Adetokunbo (Worcester Wolves, UK), Mike Efevbeha (Sagesse, Lebanon) and Obi Emenago (Rouen Basket, France).
The rest are Omogbo Emmanuel (VL Pesaro, Italy), Nwogbo Lotana Afam (Sendai 89ers, Japan), Talib Zanna (Ironi Nes-Ziona, Israel) and Christopher Obekpa Ewaoche (Tranzaspor, Turkey).
Nigeria’s D’Tigers have been drawn in Group B alongside hosts Mali,Rwanda and Uganda at the FIBA qualifiers.